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09.30  Chinese Great Archaeological Site Conservation and Management—Taking Liangzhu, Yin Xu, and Han Yangling Sites as Case Studies

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9:00, Monday 6 Jun 2016 (30 minutes)

Chinese Great Archaeological Site (CGAS) is a term that refers to large, important and influentially far-reaching ancient ruins in China, the conservation of which started at the turn of the century. The reasons that Chinese Great Archaeological Site Conservation and Management (CGASCM) was established are twofold: the threats from the increasing natural disasters and the increasing speed of development, and the need to display and utilize CGASs as an important cultural resource. 

But new theories and new approaches in Archaeological Site Conservation and Management (ASCM) are facing many opportunities and challenges. What are the main types of CGASCM, and what are their characteristics and issues? How should conservation of CGASCM be dealt with while balancing the local residents’ livelihood and the entire area’s development? 

In order to investigate these issues, three different representative types of CGASs—Liangzhu, Yin Xu and Han Yangling sites—were chosen for our field research, which was carried out using a questionnaire and interviews. Afterward, through the statistical analysis of the research data, and discussions of the stakeholders’ opinions, some specific issues, experiences, and solutions for these three CGASs clearly arose. 

The first issue concerns the organizations and mechanisms. The conservation and management organizations and mechanisms need to change the regulations. Most CGASCM continue using traditional methods for general archaeological sites and other cultural relics, which have a simple and single function: to conserve. If these methods work well, the basic conservation can be achieved. But for CGASs, those organizations and mechanisms cannot be satisfied with to the integrity requirements of conservation, display, and utilization. In addition, the local economic development, the environmental reform, and the local residents’ peaceful livelihood are usually mitigating factors. For those reasons, some CGASs have to make some adjustments to meet the new requirements. 

Another issue is how to deal with the core issues of CGASCM in conservation while balancing the local residents’ livelihood and the entire area’s development. One purpose of CGASCM is to fully demonstrate the value of archaeological sites to more people, while this purpose cannot affect the local residents’ livelihood. 

Notwithstanding what local residents think of GAS, they must know about the archaeological site in their hometown and understand that it is interesting and important. Many different approaches are used in China, such as: local culture education for primary and junior high school students, public participation excavation, free or low-price tickets, exhibitions connected between the ancient site and contemporary people, and in situ presentation by archaeologists. 

It is also necessary to gain a better reputation. Most of CGASs suffer from a lack of visual attraction, and therefore are not well known. But we cannot ignore the cultural and educational values of CGASs, and so improving their reputations in China as well as abroad is necessary. 

As of 2014, at the Liangzhu Site, textbooks for elementary and middle school students in Yuhang District started being published; this initiative helps young people learn more about their hometown. In addition, many media campaigns covered the period when Yin Xu was registered on the World Heritage List. In the future, new kinds of exhibitions making the connection between the ancient site and contemporary people, and travelling exhibitions of CGASs’ remains should all be considered. It is also very important to make these regularly and permanently. CGAS have just started. The theory research needs to be improved, and the approaches need to be constantly renewed.

Dongdong Wang


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